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What I Did On My Summer Vacation: On and Off-Broadway Edition

Summer’s such a slow time for theater, right? WRONG. Here’s a recap of all the stuff we’ve seen in the last bunch of sweaty, summery weeks…

This summer Andrew Kober snagged a plum spot in the NYMF lineup for the latest edition of his cabaret show appropriately entitled Koberet. The lineup of songs and stories has changed a bit, but Kober’s self-depricating humor remains fully intact, which we always appreciate. Something we also appreciate? Guest appearances by Steel Burkhardt, obviously. Steel joined Andrew to sing a cover of “Call Me Maybe” for which Steel was hopelessly unprepared — miraculously, Steel is the only person on earth who doesn’t know the words. We’re guessing that number won’t stick around for the next iteration, but we hope he never removes the French whorehouse story because… it’s the best we’ve ever had heard. And obviously there are a lot of French whorehouse stories floating around these Broadway cabaret gigs.

This summer’s edition of ShakesBEER featured — gasp — another playwright. Edmond Rostand, to be exact. You know, the dude who wrote a little play called Cyrano de Bergerac. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Anyway. Turns out we weren’t too bothered by the dramatic shift because a) we were already a little drunk and b) Vince Gatton, Virginia Donohoe and the very cute Danny Rivera — as Cyrano, Roxanne and Christian, respectively — were pretty damn great.

The Last Smoker in America
A summer trifle for those who feel oppressed by NYC’s anti-smoking laws: The Last Smoker in America, which takes a Urinetown-y, basic-freedoms-are-banned take on one American family. The book is an incoherent disaster and the jokes are more for your grandmother than you, but it’s pretty lovely to see Natalie Venetia Belcon — amazing in Avenue Q as Gary Coleman the super — onstage again.

Broadway Stands Up for Freedom
Our favorite charitable event of the year combining two of our favorite things — Broadway and lawyers — rocked NYU’s Skirball Center back in July. Highlights: Seth Rudetsky’s jokery, the wee child from Once singing “Free to Be You and Me” in sequined sneakers, Tony Kushner officially coining the term “Arizonian,” and Lindsay Mendez’s pink Cynthia Rowley dress, which she admitted, onstage, was purchased at T.J. Maxx. Why did we love this? Lucky has the same dress, only in green. And hers is from Marshalls.

Richard III
Can’t manage three hours of Shakespeare on a weeknight? Girl, neither can we. Enter the Public Theater’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which is presenting a rad Richard III this summer in community centers, soup kitchens, prisons, and even The Public Theater itself. It’s $15 a ticket and 90 minutes long, which spares you all the play’s obscure politics and leaves all of would-be King Richard’s cray cray intact. Post-show drinks following some weeknight performances at The Public are a fun bonus. Again, because Shakespeare + alcohol = genius.

Starcatcher’s New Stache
Matthew Saldivar doesn’t do it the way Christian Borle did it. But really, who could? Filling Borle’s Tony-winning shoes in Peter and the Starcatcher basically required a wholesale re-imagining of the character Black Stache. We’re not complaining. Saldivar’s ‘Stache is a little beefier and a little hammier. One thing he’s not: Chicken. It’s a brave new world — and really, a whole new show — over at the Brooks Atkinson. It was worth our second trip.

Norbert Leo Butz at 54 Below
We laughed! We cried! We were totally bummed that they were out of oysters! If you had to pick a place to start with the new cabaret space, 54 Below, you did well if you chose Norbert Leo Butz. His moody, bluesy, emotional set ranked among the best things we did this summer besides lie on the beach with our Les Miserables logo towels. Bonus points forever for rocking a Jason Robert Brown song that’s not even in The Last Five Years anymore, and for making Dad Jeans look good.

Matt Doyle Gig
So yes, we posted a bit of scoop after Matt Doyle’s album release gig at Joe’s in early July, but did we ever mention there was also some amazing music, too? Because there was, and we loved it. In June we caught Matt’s acoustic gig at Bon Soir Supper Club, but we loved hearing Matt with a full band even more. And we’re still obsessed with his soulful cover of Foy Vance’s “First of July” all these weeks later. And in case you didn’t know it, Matt is an absolute darling — which always comes across on stage — who hung around to chat and take photos with every single fan who lined up to say hello after the gig.

Turn of the Screw
Our favorite thing about finding new musicals while they’re still in development? Getting to hear the stories behind them straight from their creators. After a reading of Michael Kimmel and Drew Gasparini’s new musical Turn of the Screw in July, we chatted with the guys and Drew told us he’d written the vast majority of the music in a three weeks. A whole show in three weeks, you guys! It was pretty cool to see how much they’d done in such a short time and we’ll for sure be keeping tabs on how this dark, spooky new musical develops.

The Into The Woods Party
After the show it’s the after party and once a year at Shakespeare in the Park, that party is up at Belvedere Castle. Extra apropos when that party is following Into the Woods, non? Besides the show’s stars — we spotted the very handsome Ivan Hernandez, Paris Remillard, Russell Edgington Denis O’Hare, Gideon Glick, Sarah Stiles, and Josh Lamon, among others — Alan Cumming and Stephen Sondheim held court in the corner near the bar/buffet, Arian Moayed and Rajiv Joseph milled about in the crowd and Jack McBrayer joined Amy Adams to celebrate. We sipped on beer and wine and noshed on corn salad and mini-sandwiches and truffles, sweating it out until the park closed at 1:00 am and everybody had to move on.

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